Ecology of Access to Educational Material in Developing World Universities

The longstanding crisis of the developing world library is coming to an end, but not in the way most observers anticipated. Resource scarcity, limited holdings and poor infrastructure remain the norm. Debates of access to print materials continue to revolve around decades-old fights over photocopying and parallel importation. But the combination of ever-cheaper computers and growing "shadow libraries" of pirated scholarly material is flanking these battles. Increasingly, students have access to everything, on a scale and with an ease that would have been unthinkable in the richest universities a decade ago. The consequences for educational opportunity and research in these settings are profound, as are the implications for efforts to expand legal access to materials. Such efforts no longer operate in a context shaped primarily by scarcity, but by massive, unauthorized and uncontrolled flow of digital texts.
There are anecdotal accounts of these developments but no systematic analysis of them. In particular, there has been no forward-looking analysis of the possible impact of these developments on developing country publishing industries, library infrastructure or legal strategies for accessing access to educational materials.
This grant will support a multi-country inquiry into the ecology of access to educational materials in developing world universities with a focus on Brazil, India and South Africa. The overall goal is to understand the actual organization of access to knowledge goods in developing world universities, as distinct from the accounts of access that inform most conversations about copyright, open access and enforcement. The findings will contribute to a wider inquiry into global market and policy dynamics, and to the emerging positive agenda on access, copyright and enforcement at the international level.

Project ID

106657

Project status

Closed

Start Date

Monday, October 17, 2011

End Date

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Duration

30 months

IDRC Officer

Sayo, Phet

Total funding

CA$ 748,000

Country(s)

Brazil, South America, India, South Africa, North of Sahara, South of Sahara, North and Central America, Central Asia, Far East Asia, South Asia

Project Leader

Joe Karaganis

Institution

The American Assembly

Institution Country

United States